The Update Bomb

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Was shutting down the computer last night before going to the studio party and saw the “update and shut down” option meaning Windows needed to fix a few things. Probably things they broke while fixing other things but it just meant yet another update. At least I was leaving so it wouldn’t matter how long the update took.

With all the other updates, it was just a matter of starting up the next day. Sometimes, there was an annoying message about setting other things up but, for the most part, no real issues…….

Guess I missed the memo about this update since it basically wiped out all my saved browser information.

So I got to spend some time signing back into all of the things that no longer recognized who I was. And then dealing with entering various codes to confirm my identity since the sites couldn’t figure out who I was even with the login and password. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about the extra security though.

I suppose the other good thing is that it did clean up my bookmarks. I had lots of places I thought were interesting that I bookmarked but then never went back to. So those are all gone and I’m back in business.

Updates tend to remind me of a work thing. Won’t get into all the details. The basic story is we had custom developed software to handle certain tasks. And custom is kind of a stretch since it was 90% analysis things with some simple user interface wrapped around it.

The software was verified to work but that was in a specific Windows environment and you know how Windows loves to push patches. Does a patch really change the environment? Maybe for some things but highly unlikely for this piece of software. Still, since nobody wanted to be responsible for making that decision, we had to take special steps to deal with patches.

It required wiring all those machines into a special server where our IT guys could bundle patches and push them when necessary. Then we had a whole system to deal with installing the patches on one machine, testing the software, and, most importantly, filling out the associated forms to prove that the patch hadn’t broken anything. Only when we got all the associated approvals could we push the patches to the rest of the computers.

And since the bulk of our “custom” program was another off the shelf piece of software, there was no risk that a Windows patch was going to mess up the calculations. The only real risk (which was low) was that we’d create some kind of incompatibility that we keep the program from running.

And, yes, we had to write a procedure to provide the appropriate instructions for doing this and people had to be “trained” to be a patch master. But the procedure had to include many steps on what we’d do if the patch actually broke something.

We also had to make a little sign to put on the computer we were using to test the patches to make sure nobody accidentally used the program before it was officially blessed.

Which is why I always laugh when people talk about how big companies are far more efficient than the government. Maybe some but certainly not where I worked.

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